There are many conditions that tenants must adhere to in order to retain the right to inhabit a property, but the requirements for landlords are equally stringent. The law is designed to provide fair protection to both parties, so it's important to be aware of your rights, how to protect them, and how to avoid legal disputes.
Before you agree to rent a property, thoroughly inspect it and note anything you see that gives you cause for concern. Speak to the current tenants if possible, as they will be the best authorities on potential and existing issues and can vouch for or against the landlord's competence in handling issues as and when they arise. Note all your concerns in writing so that there's a dated paper trail of the property's defects.
Read your contract carefully before signing it, and challenge anything you feel uncomfortable with. Most landlords will require a deposit before your tenancy begins. For safety and impartiality, it should be held by a third-party deposit protection scheme, not the landlord directly.
Your landlord must provide at least 24 hours' notice before paying you a visit and should have a valid reason for entering, such as for an inspection or to make improvements.
If you have a fixed-term contract, your landlord can only raise the rent with your agreement. If you do not agree, they may not do this until your tenancy comes to an end. However, if you have a rolling weekly or monthly contract, your landlord may raise the rent once a year. The raise must be fair and in-line with comparable rents in the area, so it's advisable to educate yourself on local rates.
Landlords are responsible for some aspects of property maintenance and safety, regarding heating, home security, gas and electricity, and water supply. It is the tenant's responsibility to inform the landlord of any required works, and to continue paying rent until the work is complete.
Tenants can legally be evicted for a valid reason, such as damage to the premises. If you feel you have been discriminated against or evicted on a whim, it should be possible to challenge the decision, although you may require a lawyer's assistance. The usual protocol gives the tenant between 30 and 60 days to vacate the property, although exceptions are made in some circumstances, such as failure to pay rent. Landlords are required to provide written notice of eviction, containing the date, the tenant's name, the address, and the landlord's details.
The tenant's responsibilities
As a tenant, your responsibilities include repairing or paying for any damage caused to the property as a result of your tenancy, paying rent on time and conforming to specific contractual obligations, which often include bans on smoking, subletting, and pets. Unless otherwise stated, it is your responsibility to pay associated charges including tax and utility bills. Replacing short-life items like light bulbs also falls to the tenant.
International legal regulations vary, so if you're considering renting abroad, conduct some research into the specific rights pertaining to tenants in that country. With years of experience in the worldwide property market, Engel & Völkers are ideally placed to guide you through the complex process of international rentals, offering friendly and authoritative advice every step of the way.